The envelope was unassuming when I pulled it out of the mailbox.
Thick with multiple sheets of paper stuffed deep, ambiguous and unfamiliar address taped on the top left, it very easily could have fallen in our slosh pile. But my eyes glanced over the address one more time, and I noticed the initials meant something to me. It’d been a while since I’d seen those letters clumped together.
What is our adoption agency sending us now? I wondered. I didn’t even wait until I got to the car. I tore a piece off the corner and raked my finger across the sticky tape.
“We received this in the mail recently. We thought you and Russ may want to read it.”
I turned the page and stopped cold.
It was a letter from the birth mom.
A few weeks after she decided to keep her son, I sat talking with a friend.
“How are you feeling about everything? How are you feeling about her?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s still all surreal. I’m upset and hurt, but there’s no anger here.” I motioned toward my heart, “you know when the first birth mom went all crazy and the placement broke, I immediately deleted her number from my phone. I wanted no part in that crazy brokenness and confusion.” I clenched my hands and took a deep breath.
“But for some reason, I don’t think this is over. I’m going to hear from this mom again. I know it.”
“You haven’t deleted her number?” My friend asked, her eyebrows reaching up behind her bangs.
“I haven’t deleted her number.”
It grew silent then—me lost in my own thoughts, my friend at a loss for words.
The day before I pulled the letter out of the mailbox, I confessed to some friends that I can’t see us with kids. It’s as if the picture I saw with such clarity has been ripped from my grasp. It doesn’t make sense. “Maybe I’m numb, I don’t know. But it just doesn’t seem possible. At least not likely.”
This is what adoption’s like you know. At least the waiting part. You fall into a rhythm and if you aren’t careful, forget that you’re expecting. You fail to remember that at any moment, your whole universe can shift and fold in on itself only to bend out in a completely new shape.
This has happened to us four times.
Twice when we got the call that we’d been matched and twice when we got the call that the placement was broken and we weren’t getting a kid after all.
Now we’re just stuck in limbo. Disillusionment came in and made himself a home right where Belief use to sit.
Until we got the letter.
I finally had their kid…I thought to myself. Now I get to love on him. Sing to him. Write to him. I thought of him as theirs, until the morning when I started to doubt…at 4:15, I received a text from my mom. Keep him. If it’s diapers you’re worried about buying, I’ll buy them for the first six months. If it’s being a good mom you’re worried about, stop. You’ve always been an incredible mother.
You know those moments where clarity hits with such force you lose your breath and feel breathed into at the same moment? Reading these words provided the answers I’ve been wrestling for these past few months. “We may never know why…” has fallen off my lips more times than I can count. And here—right here—with words I could touch and speak and whisper and scream and laugh and cry, was the answer.
Isn’t that aways the way? Even the answers seem nebulous. Hard to reach. Confusing.
I sat in front of our apartment and read the letter out loud in stilted whispers. I wanted to feel the way these words fell from my mouth. I remembered the conversation with my friend about the connection with this woman—how I knew she would contact me—but I never imagined a letter. I read her words over and over and over and over, looking for one more piece—one more way to understand the emotions swirling inside.
I’ve learned that the toughest situations turn out to be pretty good stories.
She said this in the last paragraph, a way to tie up all of these messy pieces of her past year. The unexpected pregnancy, the fear of support, the unknown hanging over her head. She felt peace and acceptance with the adoption agency though, and with this couple who possessed a strong soul. And I wondered as I slowly made my way to the front door, fingering the letter against my arm, if that sentence didn’t hold a bit more of the answer.